Mapping Sustainability Trends
Where are the sustainable innovations coming from?
* We create the future by our actions and approach
* We will use 80% more energy by 2050 – so we have to change course
* Currently, 4 out of 5 brands have no notable impact on our quality of life
* We must focus on the ‘4 Ps’ – Planet, People, Pleasure, then Profit
* Whole-brain approaches balance Rational and Emotional thinking
* People want meaning & community, as well as dialogue & mobility
* Social Capital makes business sense and gets us closer to The Good Life
William Blake once said: “I must create a system of my own or be enslaved, by another man’s.” This struck me as key to working with trends and innovation. In my line of work it is a well-known fact that: ‘The Future is not just somewhere you go, you create the future’. This is why, over the years, we have developed certain tools to anticipate change and future challenges. Our future success will depend on how well we adapt to change and take advantage of it.
2. Presentation Overview
* Today’s Society
* Mapping The Future
* Key Social Trends
* Value Driven Experiences
3. Today’s Society
Sustainability is now the ‘new norm’, influencing societies, businesses and individuals alike – and for some it has almost become a religion. According to the OECD: “The world economy will be 4 times larger by 2050 and is projected to use 80% more energy”. Therefore, there is an urgent call for innovative new models to drive future sustainability And what I am talking about is a holistic economic model that considers a 4P bottom line: Planet, People, Pleasure and then Profit.
Case and Photo: The island of Samsø in Denmark is the first European community to achieve a positive energy balance. Producing more renewable energy than it consumes, it sells off the surplus. Samsø Energy Academy is renowned for its ‘future led’ green research and has created social innovation and a prospering community through green initiatives. Denmark aims to supply 35% of its total energy from renewables by 2020 and 100% by 2050.
4. Navigating Complexity
Contrast, uncertainty and sustainability challenges rule today’s world. We are bombarded with contradictory messages, so keeping up with pattern spotting and analysis to extract meaningful information is a challenge. Efficiency and Connectivity clearly collides with our ideals of Happiness and Meaning. I see a dilemma because the ‘Good Life’ seems to be confused with a life full of ‘Goods’.
The Question is: How to balance these contrasts in order to engage and initiate true innovation? Einstein was right: “You can’t solve a problem with the same mindset that created it.”
5. Multidimensional Thinking
For far too long we have banked on left-brain thinking only. Inspiring open minds means changing the way we think. I believe it is time to consider both Left and Right values to shape a positive future vision. We simply need a multi-disciplinary approach to move ahead. This is why I use a Multidimensional Thinking method for creating Kjaer Global’s Trend Atlas.
6. Trend Atlas 2020+
This system considers the whole picture: the Scientific, Social, Emotional and Spiritual dimensions of today’s societies, businesses and individuals. It enables us to decode the socio economic and cultural content of the world to identify key drivers of change. With data excess, we need a holistic system that talks back – a sense-making platform.
7. Meaningful Experiences
Our ‘love affair’ with economic growth hasn’t delivered more happiness – so people are looking elsewhere for meaning. Increasingly they are asking profound questions like: ‘How Can I Get More out of My Life?
F&F: The Meaningful Brand Index MBI found that only 20% of brands are perceived to have a notable positive impact on our sense of wellbeing & quality of life. Also, most people wouldn’t care if 70% of brands disappeared. I believe it is time to rethink our business models to match people’s expectations. Companies and governments need to engage in a much wider debate to create a ‘honest’ sustainability narrative, that resonates with people.
8. Key Society Drivers
Creating a narrative for sustainable innovation is not just an idea, but a ‘Whole New Mindset’ – bringing societies, businesses and people together across disciplines. To fuel this vision, you need ‘Building Blocks’, or ‘Future Sound Bites’ as I call them. This is my shortlist of key trends influencing the sustainability agenda now and in the future:
* Resource Shortage – Engagement
* Total Transparency – Trust
* Enabling Technology - Empowerment
* Global Citizens – Mobility
* Disruptive Innovation – Progress
* Sharing Economy – Dialogue
* Social Capital – Community
* The Good Life – Meaning (Happiness Hunting)
Now, we tend to talk about trends individually, but they are in fact all inter-connected. Trend knowledge is essential for future storytelling and for creating a holistic outlook.
9. Value Driven Experiences
Tomorrow’s Innovation Model has to be informed by the society drivers. Obviously, all the trends are relevant – especially because change in society influences our behaviour. People engage according to context and values and companies must respond to this diversity.
In a Rational context people’s values and focus will be: Mobility and Dialogue. In an Emotional context people’s values and focus will be: Community and Meaning. The diagram also highlights challenges and opportunities ahead. Tomorrow’s meaningful sustainability narrative must be measured by a 4P bottom line: Planet, People, Pleasure & then Profit.
10. Speed Hunters
The Speed Hunters focus on Mobility. They are Aspirational and High Achievers. Lifelong Learning and Agility is how they live their life. Mobility and Global Citizenship defines them – they are living life in the fast line. “70% of the world’s population is projected to live in urban areas by 2050, exacerbating challenges such as air pollution, transport congestion and waste management.” OECD 2012
11. Creative Class
The Creative Class want Dialogue. They are Resourceful and Creative people operating through Sharing Networks and Affinity Groups. They prioritise ‘We’ time over ‘Me’ time in any encounter. “More than 3 in 5 people think that sharing is ‘better for the environment’ and 3 in 4 believe their sharing of physical objects and spaces will increase by 2015.” The New Sharing Economy – Latitude 2010
12. Global Sustainers
The Global Sustainers search for Community. They are Adventurous and want Authentic experiences. To follow their convictions, they are Pro-active and Informed – products and services must deliver on the promise of Better World and Ethics to appeal to them. “Climate change is projected to become the fastest growing driver of biodiversity loss by 2050, followed by commercial forestry.” OECD 2012
13. Wellbeing Explorers
The wellbeing Explorers focus on Meaning. They are Reflective and Future Oriented, believing in Intelligent Reduction and Transparency. Any service, product or experience promising ‘Me’ over ‘We’ time will appeal to them. “It is crucial for people worldwide to understand that water, as well as waste water, is a valuable resource that needs to be handled imaginatively and frugally. ‘Waterproofing’ our cities requires the involvement not just of specialists, but of everyone.” Herbert Girardet ‘CitiesPeoplePlanet 2008′
Case and Photo: From Sewer to Harbour Bath: Today Copenhagen’s harbour has recreational bathing facilities with high water quality. This is part of a vision to become the world’s best urban environment by 2015.” A future proof strategy requires a whole-brain outlook to engage with the world in a wider context and build a ‘heartfelt’ sustainability narrative. Companies must demonstrate empathy for the culture in which they exist.
A 4P vision drives Social Capital and is the glue that holds society together, enabling people to reach their highest potential and lead The Good Life.
My system is directive not prescriptive; you can download so many interesting F&F, insights and cases – but moving forward together is the key for change. Stop talking start acting.
Talk: London Climate Forum, November 2012, Imperial College >>
Anne Lise is a futurist and keynote speaker working across the world